Certificate Learning Objectives:

  • Goal 1: To have a solid skill base for the assessment and development of research design strategies in light of contemporary psychedelic research priorities.
  • Goal 2: To understand the science and cross-cultural underpinnings behind the potential clinical efficacy of the use of psychedelics for the treatment of medical conditions, as well as for the enhancement of creativity, well-being and for personal development.
  • Goal 3: To understand the foundational aspects of neuroscience, neuropharmacology and psychopharmacology pertaining to psychedelic medicines.
  • Goal 4: To develop specialized clinical knowledge and skill in facilitating others through alternate states of consciousness in a community clinic and/or research setting.
  • Goal 5: To attain competence as a psychotherapist with understanding and skills in the creation of appropriate set and setting for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy research.

"Alienation from nature and the loss of the experience of being part of the living creation is the greatest tragedy of our materialistic era. It is the causative reason for ecological devastation and climate change. Therefore I attribute absolute highest importance to consciousness change. I regard psychedelics as catalyzers for this. They are tools which are guiding our perception toward other deeper areas of our human existence, so that we again become aware of our spiritual essence. Psychedelic experiences in a safe setting can help our consciousness open up to this sensation of connection and of being one with nature.  ....  It is my great concern to separate psychedelics from the ongoing debates about drugs, and to highlight the potential inherent to these substances for self-awareness, as an adjunct in therapy, and for fundamental research into the human mind. It is my wish that a modern Eleusis will emerge, in which seeking humans can learn to have transcendent experiences with sacred substances in a safe setting. I am convinced that these soul-opening, mind-revealing substances will find their appropriate place in our society and our culture."       

                         --Albert Hofmann, in a letter from April, 2007 

Timely Scaling of the Training for 2022:

After expanding our programming to include two cohorts of students in 2021, our Center is scaling the certificate training in 2022 to three cohorts of students who are mental health and medical professionals or ordained clergy. We will continue to offer hybrid cohort options with classes in both Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA. We are excited to offer an entirely online cohort, which will be open to licensed psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurses. This online cohort will allow greater accessibility to the certificate program for these clinicians both nationally and internationally.

Because of our great success and significantly increased demand for admissions into this program, we are expanding the size of our program with an expected 150 trainees per hybrid cohort and 75 students in the online cohort. The outstanding certificate program has been continuously fine-tuned based on our program evaluations from the past six years. Of note, issues of diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the field of psychedelic medicines have continued to develop as a strong presence in the program. Both the engaging hybrid online-residential classes and the online-only classes will be conducted during an eight-month period.

With the success of our online classes for our hybrid programs in both Boston and San Francisco, we have chosen to offer an online-only cohort due to key opportunities offered by a virtual program. With an increasing number of trainees joining us from around the United States and twelve countries internationally, an online program for specific psychotherapists will enhance accessibility globally while offering an excellent learning experience. Trainees in the online cohort will receive equivalent instruction to the hybrid cohorts and will complete essential role plays virtually. This online program has limited spaces and is only open to licensed psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurses.

Curricular Format:

For all cohorts, the 2022 curriculum entails 150 total hours of instruction, including 120 hours of in-class learning (online and/or in-person) and 30 hours of individualized learning, mentor consultations, and online video instruction. Applicants will choose their preferred cohort at time of application: San Francisco, Boston, or Online-only. The Online-only cohort will participate in the Boston class dates virtually for the training weekends. The San Francisco program is hybrid only. All applicants commit to the timing and type of the cohort to which they are admitted. See the exact 2022 schedule below.

We are actively watching for fluctuations of guidelines from the CDC and university administration in terms of the development of the COVID variants. We reserve the right to move any planned in-person classes to online for the safety of all involved.

Hybrid Online and Residential Format for the Boston and San Francisco Cohorts:

For both the Boston and San Francisco based cohorts, the certificate program course schedule will be comprised of six total weekends; two 4-day in-person weekends, a 6-day in-person training, and three 2-day online weekends. One spring 2022 weekend will be in-person in order to experience Holotropic Breathwork during part of that course meeting. There will be a 6-day in-person training in the summer, and the final meeting in the fall will also be held in-person. The in-person weekends will be conducted at a comfortable conference hotel.

For all 2022 in-person classes, the Center will follow CIIS administrative and CDC guidance regarding COVID-19. Currently, the CIIS Vaccine Mandate requires all persons on campus and at conference centers to verify vaccination or request a medical or religious exception. We anticipate CIIS will continue to mandate vaccines in 2022 and applicants to the hybrid cohorts should plan accordingly. See more information about CIIS’ response to COVID-19 here: https://www.ciis.edu/covid19.

Online-only Format

We are excited to offer an Online-only cohort beginning in 2022. We have limited the composition of this cohort to licensed psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurses. These licensed professionals have the necessary and sufficient supervised clinical and psychotherapeutic background in order to complete the required role-plays online. In 2023, we may allow other professionals to join the Online-only cohort, but for 2022 this cohort is limited to these specific professional groups (see below for specific professions eligible for this cohort).

As with the hybrid cohorts, the Online-only cohort includes 6 total weekends, all conducted virtually via Zoom. The two 4-day weekends and the 6-day training will include the Boston hybrid cohort trainees, and three 2-day weekends will be held with both 2022 hybrid classes. Online trainees will be supported by teaching assistants and will participate at a distance, doing the experiential learning modules via video conference break-out rooms. See the full schedule below.

See the exact 2022 schedule on our About the Certificate page.

Innovative Curriculum and Learning Environment:

The learning environment is in the form of lectures, small group discussion, review of therapy session recordings, mentoring experiences, and experiential learning (e.g., Holotropic Breathwork, role-play, guided imagery, expressive arts, and journaling). Classes begin in April 2022 for all cohorts and end in October 2022 for San Francisco and in November 2022 for Boston and the Online-only cohorts. The 6-day training will be in the summer on two separate long weekends: one near Boston and one near San Francisco. The Online cohort will virtually join the Boston cohort weekends. Arrangements and costs for all personal travel, lodging, and food are the responsibility of trainees in both hybrid cohorts. CIIS will reserve room blocks at a lower cost, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The first class meeting in April for all cohorts will include either an experiential Holotropic Breathwork session or experiential therapy role plays. The hybrid cohorts will participate in a Saturday session of Holotropic Breathwork with Diane Haug who is a lead international teacher of the Grof Legacy Training. On that Saturday, the Online-only cohort will participate in guided therapy role plays with expert instructors.

An engaging feature of the program is the use of frequent flip classes, an innovative online learning pedagogy. In this type of class, students preview a recorded lecture or presentation before the class weekend and bring questions and comments to the class meetings. During an extended discussion period, the teacher is then able to provide deeper discourse into the topics at hand during class. The training program includes opportunities each class day for more intimate small group discussions within a Home Group. These Home Groups are comprised of 7-9 trainees who co-create a learning pod together for the entire certificate training. Book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles are assigned by our teachers for each class. Throughout the program, prominent readings are required and recommended as foundational learning for this field. For a sneak peek see the 2022 textbook list.

Exceptional Collaboration with MAPS:

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently requiring a 100-hour training for all eligible allied health professionals and clergy who wish to be permitted by MAPS to provide MDMA-assisted therapy after the FDA re-scheduling of MDMA. Since 2016, CIIS and MAPS have collaborated in organizing an opportunity for graduates of the CIIS program to efficiently complete MAPS therapist training. The 100 hours of the current MAPS training program are outlined here.

Notably, CIIS trainees will have completed approximately half of the training required by MAPS to conduct MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in approved clinical settings. This means that our graduates are more readily able to finish their MAPS training. MAPS has generously granted this key benefit for CIIS graduates in which they save approximately half of the cost of the full MAPS training. The 6-day summer trainings are collaboratively organized by CIIS and MAPS, and taught by the lead MAPS trainers, Michael Mithoefer, MD, and Annie Mithoefer, RN.

Individualized Offerings Beyond the Classroom:

The certificate program provides students with an exemplary experience by offering additional opportunities for elective individualized learning and networking. Students may select from a multiplicity of options: supplementary workshop offerings, didactic and/or experiential trainings, as well as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy training. These offerings also provide occasions for students to deepen their understanding of that expert’s work and field and acquaint themselves with more influential mentors and teachers. Opportunities for training in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy will be offered through affiliated, highly skilled instructors and will have a separate fee. Students may receive credit for many of these varied offerings.

Each year there are several workshops which have included focused teaching on issues of accessibility, diversity and inclusion in the field; psychedelic session music; integration techniques; and strategies of creating regional psychedelic sciences groups. These are incredible opportunities to study with experts in the field in smaller sized groups of practitioners.

Mentoring and Learning Assessments:

Trainees work with a distinguished mentor who has experience in psychedelic-assisted and/or entactogen-assisted psychotherapy research or in related areas of clinical expertise. Our mentors are licensed clinicians and well-known researchers with expertise in the area of psychedelic studies, and many have expertise in issues of diversity, inclusion and belonging. The mentors meet with a small group of mentees regularly and once individually during the program. Professional development discussions, assessments, and confidential integration of learning will occur in mentoring. As part of the culmination of the training, under the supervision of the mentors, trainees will write a final paper, several of which have been published by our graduates in peer refereed journals, or complete a final project.

At mid-year and at the end of the training, students and mentors complete several learning assessments. Trainees will complete a self-assessment of progress in the program, as well as an anonymous program evaluation in September, 2022 and February, 2023. Mentors will complete a year-end assessment of their mentees’ progress and an anonymous program evaluation. The Center staff utilize these reports to improves the program’s content and learning processes. We hold this research on trainee and program outcomes as essential for setting high academic standards in the continued evolution in the training psychedelic therapists and researchers.

Take a look at a Summary of the Certificate: Download the 2022 Information Packet 

The 150 Hour Certificate Curricular Modules of Study

(Click on each box below to get full details)

Research Foundations (20 Hours)

Renaissance in Research: Psychedelic-Assisted & Entactogen-Assisted Therapy 4 hours
  • Definitions of entactogens, psychedelics, hallucinogens, entheogens & empathogens
  • Confluence of psychedelic exploration, Eastern & Western spirituality during the 1950s & 1960s
  • Re-emergence of research in mid-80s & resurgence in 1990s
  • Brief history of psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, ibogaine, ketamine & ayahuasca research
  • Contemporary Clinical Research on Classic Psychedelics, MDMA and Ketamine
  • Research on enhancement of creativity, meaning in life, and spiritual & mystical experiences
Pharmacology & Neuroscience  6 hours
  • Neuroscience, brain structures & brain imagery
  • Basic science of pharmacology & behavioral pharmacology
  • Cell biology and biochemistry, as related to these medicines
Legal Issues and Regulatory Processes 5 hours
  • Brief history of the scheduling of these medicines
  • Legal status of psychedelics & entactogens
  • Regulatory processes: FDA, DEA & State Research Advisory Panels
  • Institutional Review Board role for clinical research
Access and Equity in Psychedelic Medicine and Research for Diverse Populations 5 hours
  • Wholistic and integrated standards of care and research for the benefit of diverse communities
  • Recognition of varying incidence of illness and access to treatment for culturally and ethnically diverse populations
  • Health and illness correlates of structural barriers in social, political, and economic systems
  • Policies and practices to eliminate disparities in medical treatment, especially psychedelic-assisted therapy

Practices for Transformation of Consciousness (10 Hours)

Sacraments, Indigenous Wisdom Traditions, & Mystical Experiences 7 hours
  • Traditions for expansion of consciousness: meditation, yoga, dance, ceremony & ritual, fasting, solo wilderness journeys, etc.
  • Overview of indigenous uses of ayahuasca, ibogaine, peyote, San Pedro, salvia divinorum, mushrooms & other healing plants
  • Cross-cultural ceremonial use of psychedelics & plant medicines
  • Sacraments, spiritual usage & mystical experiences
  • Religious studies, entactogens & psychedelics
  • Ego strength, ego transcendence & transformational processes
Psychedelics & Entactogens: Community, Spirituality & Wellness 3 hours
  • Reparation, harm reduction & benefit enhancement: socio-cultural controversies, education & religion
  • Ecopsychology & plant medicine: traditional uses for individual & planetary health
  • Quality of life enhancement: vibrant, diverse communities & the betterment of well people
  • Complementary medicine issues: nutrition & integrative approaches

Therapist Competencies and Therapeutic Processes (32 Hours)

Core Competencies & Healing Presence of Therapist Guide      5 hours
  • Primary therapeutic competencies for this work
  • Presence, empathy, cultural humility & non-directive support
  • Clergy, Chaplaincy & spiritual guidance insights
  • Methods & insights from psycholytic treatments
  • Psychedelic therapeutic methods vs. traditional verbal or somatic therapies
  • Skills of an effective co-therapist guide; on-site clinical research training strategies
Meaning Making: Preparation 5 hours
  • Role of preparation for optimal sessions
  • Medical and psychological pre-assessments & contraindications
  • Traditions of preparation: journaling, fasting, body work, & intention setting
  • Therapeutic skills for the preparation process
  • How personalities and cultural biases of the therapist guide & participant impact the process
Cultural Competency and Humility 7 hours
  • Importance of self-evaluation, humility, and understanding of racial and cultural biases
  • Expanded and accurate awareness of beliefs, values, and practices of diverse populations
  • Competence in lifelong curiosity about impact of cultural differences on healthcare treatment
  • Identify and address privilege and structural racism in healthcare and psychedelic medicine
  • Engaged partnerships within communities
Ethics, Safety Issues and Support Skills 5 hours
  • Ethics guidelines for therapists
  • I-Thou relationship with research volunteers & co-therapists
  • Creation & maintenance of healthy boundaries
  • Risk and protective factors, particularly in working effectively within diverse communities
  • Contraindications for being a therapist guide & researcher
  • Set and setting of sessions: safety, agreements, intentions & comfort
  • Role of touch & non-verbal expression
  • Handling of music & sound healing in sessions
Acute Distress: Challenging Processes & Adverse Effects 5 hours
  • In-session acute distress & challenging shifts of consciousness
  • Medical & psychological emergency response protocols
  • Interventions for distress & adverse effects of MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, etc.
Integration: Practices & Goals 5 hours
  • Integration sessions: purpose & optimal outcomes
  • Steps of integration as practiced by various therapists & researchers
  • Integration skills: nuanced facilitating of the inner healer vs. orchestrating or imposing theoretical models
  • Multicultural traditions for the integration of entactogen & psychedelic transformations
  • Use of plant medicines for staying connected and responsive to the earth
  • Relationship of self & community in mystical & spiritual meaning making

Experience of Guiding & Being Guided in Expanded States of Consciousness (25 Hours)

Holotropic Breathwork weekend with Diane Haug
Role-play exercises of actual psychedelic therapy sessions
Guided imagery, expressive artwork & self-hypnosis
Drumming & rattling inductions
Sample Optional Experiences
  • Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy training
  • Solo wilderness experience and/or sweat lodge 
  • Flotation tank or dance improvisation
  • 3-10 day meditation retreat or yoga retreat intensives
  • Hakomi or other somatic-based intensives

En Vivo & Archival Instruction (45 Hours)

Observation and discussion of specific MAPS and Heffter therapy session videos
  • 6-day summer training with MAPS senior instructors and supervisors focused on videos of their MDMA-assisted therapy
  • Observation and discussion of specific Heffter session videos

Mentoring & Professional Development (18 hours)

Mentor-Trainee Relationship 10 hours
  • Each student will work with a mentor from the program mentor list of clinically oriented or clergy members on the Council of Advisors, certificate teachers and international scholars. These mentors are advanced practitioners in their area of expertise. 
  • The mentor & supervisee will use video conferencing or meet in person for 5-6 hours during the certificate program.
  • This mentoring meeting will occur approximately once per month. Professional development discussions, assessments & confidential integration of learning will occur in supervision.
  • Personal therapy or spiritual guidance is encouraged for integrating the learning during the certificate work. The student will be asked to do so, if it is indicated for the student's continued personal and professional development.

  • Skill development in cultural competence and humility is centered in these meetings.

Lifestyle Values: Mentor-Trainee Dialogue

  • Self-care for therapists: transference, secondary trauma & counter-transference
  • Living within opportunities & limits set by protocols and research traditions
  • Commitment to lifelong engagement with diversity, inclusion, and belonging
  • Learning from mistakes & utilizing supervision well
  • Personal journaling during certificate coursework
Individualized Professional Development 8 hours
  • Students further expand their expertise in psychedelic-assisted therapies and research through 8 hours of individualized experiential training. In consultation with the Instructional Supervisor, trainees choose among a variety of options for fulfilling these hours: workshop offerings, book clubs, additional readings and recorded lectures, as well as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy training with affiliated instructors. Any trainings not provided by the certificate program, such as the ketamine-assisted psychotherapy training, may have a separate fee.

    Need to Contact Us?

    CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research
    1453 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103

    Dr. Cathy Coleman
    CPTR Admissions Manager | Certificate Manager
    Email: ccoleman@ciis.edu
    Phone: (415) 575-6261

    Leslie Carson, MS, LPCC
    Admission Project Assistant, and Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Graduate 2017
    Email: admincptr@ciis.edu
    Phone: (415) 575-6243

    We are an academic program, and we are not able to provide therapist referrals at this time.

    Subscribe to the Center Newsletter

    Stay Connected to CIIS